Having discussed what CrossFit is in a previous article, it would be relevant to have a look at the most beneficial exercises one would undertake whilst partaking in CrossFit training. One of the staple group of exercises in CrossFit deals with the Olympic lifts.
The snatch (#1), clean (#2) and jerk (#3) can all be divided into two basic phases.
First is the effort of the individual to speed up the barbell upward maximally by explosively driving against the floor with the legs and extending the hips (the jerk is an initiative with the legs only).
Second is the effort of the individual to violently pull (or push in the jerk) the body down against the barbell to receive it either overhead in the snatch, jerk or on the shoulders in the clean. There are three simple elements to the Olympic lifts’ benefit to physical ability.
The first is the most obvious: the enhancement of knee and hip extension power (power is the combination of strength and speed, we can also call this explosiveness) and rate of force development.
The second element is the improvement of an individual’s ability to safely and efficiently absorb force or decelerate. This is trained to some degree with basic strength work such as squatting, but the essence of receiving the barbell in the Olympic lifts is far more ballistic and more similar to the stresses on ground-based athletes with respect to stopping, changing course or absorbing the force of striking opponents.
The third improvement is the joint improvement of kinaesthetic attentiveness, important athletic motor skills centred on the hips and legs, and the precise and steady control of body position and movements.
No other exercises provide training for these things to the same degree, particularly so efficiently, and that’s why these three exercises are so extensively used by CrossFitters.
Another extremely important exercise to the CrossFitter is the box jump (#4). The box jump belongs to an exercise modality known as ‘plyometrics’. A plyometric movement is a quick, powerful movement consisting of an eccentric muscle action, followed by an immediate powerful concentric muscle action. The purpose of plyometric exercise is to use the stretch reflex and natural elastic components of both muscle and tendon to increase the power of subsequent movements and strengthen the muscles and tendons functionally. This is why it is of much importance to CrossFit.
The last best CrossFit exercise is the burpee. Arguably, it is one of the best full-body conditioning exercises (incorporating the chest, arms, shoulders, thighs, hamstrings, and abs) that maximises endurance and conditioning adaptations that can be done anywhere!